Brian’s Song, Rudy, Remember the Titans, Blindside, We Are Marshall, Invincible, When the Game Stands Tall, Radio. All of these movies have a few things in common. Getting the obvious out of the way first, yes they are all football movies. Aside from that they are based on true stories but that isn’t the most compelling commonality. The fact that every single one of these movies deal with overcoming obstacles both on and off of the gridiron, provides much needed inspiration to people regardless of their races, age, gender, creed or color. These movies are meant to evoke positive emotional responses as well as moments of sorrow. The latest movie to toss its helmet onto the field of play is My All American. Let’s dive in to see how it stacks up.
From a young age Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) was pushed to be the best person he could be by his father, Fred (Michael Reilly Burke). That drive and determination paved his way to a very successful high school football career at a small Colorado high school. That same hard work and self-confidence propelled him into an opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to play football for the University of Texas. His high school coach puts in a good word and gets Freddie along with his good friend, Bobby Mitchell (Rett Terrell), a meeting with the Texas Longhorns head coach. Coach Royal (Aaron Eckhart) is impressed to say the least at Freddie’s physical abilities on the field but it’s what is between his ears and what lies behind his rib cage that sets him apart from the pack. Leading by example and never sidestepping adversity makes him the perfect example of what people should aspire to be.
As foreshadowed in the introductory paragraph, My All American follows a similar formula as the previously mentioned movies. A person (and team) overcomes the odds to achieve greater gains along with dealing with adversity along the way. There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking about this latest offering. That being said, the story of Freddie Steinmark is interesting, engaging and touching. This young man definitely shows the heart of a lion. Finn Wittrock’s acting is pretty decent in his first theatrical lead role. The rest of the acting was pretty pedestrian. Nothing really stood out either way.
Where My All American comes up short is in the effects department. Scenes that involve the crowds, sidelines and other in-game footage were so bad at times it was almost impossible to focus on the events that we’re supposed to be watching. It’s almost as though they didn’t even try to make it look real. Once those thoughts begin to penetrate the brain whatever emotional bond that was forming begins to deteriorate. Yes, there are moments of emotional overload where one might need to wipe away that rogue tear but it lacks that extra pull many solid sports movies before this one possess. The lessons to be learned here are valuable ones and the potential is also there for an enjoyable matinee viewing. Just don’t expect a top notch instant classic because, try as it might, My All American fumbles the handoff from mediocre to solid. See it in theaters now or save a few dollars and wait until you can watch it at home on a Saturday afternoon.